Love's Coming-Of-Age: A Series of Papers on the Relations of the Sexes
by Edward Carpenter
"This short book of essays by Edward Carpenter is a look at gender roles at the start of the 20th century, and his prescient vision of how those roles might evolve. In the past century many of his then-utopian predictions have come to pass, such as rational sexual education, greater equality for women, recognition of a spectrum of sexual identities, widespread acceptance of trial and open relationships, and the amelioration of the stifling nature of traditional marriage. Some of these predictions, inevitably, such as the use of 'Karezza' (extended coitus without ejaculation) for contraception, and a communist society leading to the liberation of women from the drudgery of housework, have fallen flat.
One becomes aware of some peculiar facts that don't usually emerge from studies of social history, e.g., women of a century ago spent a lot of time baking bread and mending clothes. Carpenter occasionally draws on some dubious science, tainted by 19th century prudery and attitudes about women. However, for the most part, he scores some very good points which are still relevant."
About the Author:
"Edward Carpenter was an English socialist poet, anthologist, early homosexual activist, and socialist philosopher.
A leading figure in late 19th- and early 20th-century Britain, he was instrumental in the foundation of the Fabian Society and the Labour Party. A poet and writer, he was a close friend of Walt Whitman and Rabindranath Tagore, corresponding with many famous figures such as Annie Besant, Isadora Duncan, Havelock Ellis, Roger Fry, Mahatma Gandhi, James Keir Hardie, J K Kinney, Jack London, George Merrill, E D Morel, William Morris, E R Pease, John Ruskin, and Olive Schreiner.
As a philosopher he is particularly known for his publication of Civilisation, its Cause and Cure in which he proposes that civilisation is a form of disease that human societies pass through. Civilisations, he says, rarely last more than a thousand years before collapsing, and no society has ever passed through civilisation successfully. His 'cure' is a closer association with the land and greater development of our inner nature. Although derived from his experience of Hindu mysticism, and referred to as 'mystical socialism', his thoughts parallel those of several writers in the field of psychology and sociology at the start of the twentieth century, such as Boris Sidis, Sigmund Freud, and Wilfred Trotter who all recognised that society puts ever increasing pressure on the individual that can result in mental and physical illnesses such as neurosis, and the particular nervousness which was then described as neurasthenia.
A strong advocate of sexual freedom, living in a gay community near Sheffield, he had a profound influence on both D H Lawrence and E M Forster.
He was also the first person to introduce the wearing of sandals into Britain."
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